Thursday, December 9, 2010

Missing Him

Originally uploaded by shellyblake
When I come home each night, there's no one there to greet me at the door. No one peering through the stair slats to watch me come in. No one following me to the kitchen and getting under foot to beat me there.
There's no one wandering through the house crying loudly...just to hear himself echo in the foyer. No one racing up the stairs and chasing an imaginary toy across the room.
No one curling up on couch, the chair, the floor, the top step, or at the foot of my bed.
No one to meow at me to get up & feed him when my alarms been blaring for a half hour to no avail.
No one meows at me when I've stayed up too late.
I left a dirty dish in the living room last night...there was no one to protect it from since you weren't there to investigate it after I went to bed.
I keep seeing you saunter down the hallway when I'm sitting in my recliner. Keep expecting you to walk around that corner in the hall.
My kids remind me every night that you are missed. Not that I needed reminding.
We miss you Scratch. Rest in peace fatboy.

Friday, December 3, 2010


So I "think" I'll make the switch to WordPress...but figured before I do...I should share some links.

Here's the blog I started after this's all about "old America".
It's not so much a "word" blog as it is a "photo" blog. I don't plan to talk a lot - just post photos of old buildings respresenting old America. My original plan is to visit small towns & take photos of old post offices (before the USPS shuts them all down). But I realized, there might be more to this than just post offices. So if you have photos to share of old post offices, let me know...and if you know of old buildings that just scream "America", please let me know about them too! I also have a Flickr page for this purpose: > (hope that works, was expecting a shorter link!)

My "new" Average Life blog is here:
This is where I'll start blogging from instead of here. What I can't manage to decide is if I should "import" this blog into there....or just start fresh. I guess I'll figure it out later!

And iffin ya need to reach me outside of the blogging realm...there's always Twitter & Facebook.

Outside of personal...I also blog for business!

Here's my company - The Mailing Department:

And here's our new venture - Eco Print Mail (haven't really got this one going yet):

So feel free to visit me online...or drop me a line & we can go have coffee (or in my case, tea).

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Blogger Lag

Wow, hard to believe that I haven't blogged on here since August! What up with that? I guess I haven't had anything insightful to say!

So here's what I've discovered during my Blogger lag.

I like Wordpress better than Blogger.

I started a new blog over on Wordpress to support a new idea I had while on vacation in August.

I like how my Flickr account ties in with my Wordpress account. I'm guessing it "might" tie in with Blogger, but not sure about that (since Flickr is Yahoo).

I really prefer how Wordpress posts to Facebook - Blogger turns it into a "note" which is okay, but if someone posts a comment - it stays in Facebook. Not that anyone (outside of family & friends on Facebook) reads my blogs...but hey, a girl can dream right?

I love my iPhone - of course, I loved it BEFORE this blogger lag....but I continue to find new ways to love it nearly everyday! Both Blogger & Wordpress have an app. I haven't successfully learned how to use either one.

Does this only have to be about blogging? Of course not, this is my blog & I can rant how I want to!

Started counting calories in September (found out Ian had started in August and I felt left out so I jumped on the calorie-counting bandwagon too). Of course, we have an app for that (which has been great). I've lost 7 lbs so far on this! Woot! First time I've checked my total loss. That totally rocks. Okay, very pleased with myself. Time to move on....

I've gotten out of the habit of running, yah, I know, I spent 10 weeks training, did a 5K and then what? Nada. Well, not totally nada. I'm still doing it, just not as often or as far. But would like to get it back up to 3x a week again so I can do more 5K races. Don't ever see myself running a marathon though!

Had a GREAT time with my BFF this past weekend. We did more movie watching & visiting than we did scrap booking because it has been SO long since we'd had a weekend together. We watched Julie & Julia (L.O.V.E. that movie!), Mamma Mia (ditto for this one) and Funny Girl (okay, it was great, but what is up w/ Barbara's freakishly long fingers? OMG).

I went camping earlier this month with My Boy for cub scouts. It was his last Webelos Unplugged campout & even though it was COLD, it was a lot of fun. It was 37 degrees on our last morning there. Brrrrr.

Since I'm working backwards...we also took a trip to Ohio in August. My mom, niece, nephew, my two kids & me drove through Ohio to PA, visited with family and then worked our way back, visiting with old friends the whole way. One of these days I'll post pix somewhere...but until then, well, you'll just have to wait.

I'm still on Twitter and do that nearly daily (or more than once a day). It's easy with an iPhone app! I guess I'm more of a micro blogger now that I am a blogger. Oh well, that's the way it goes! (Maybe I do need to figure out how those blogging apps work!).

Okay, so enough of my random musings. I must get on with my day - too much to do in too little time.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Office Musings

Conversations overheard or experienced, certainly enjoyed...

You know, if you don’t shut up I might just have to hit you..or buy a gun…but I don’t own one and it takes 3 days…

And you’re a pacifist, right?

Yah, I’m not going to jail for you buddy!

Monday, July 19, 2010

EMAIL: Woulda.. Coulda.. Shoulda

I received this email this morning and felt I needed to share it with not just my usual "friends" list...but with so many more. It's too long for a Twitter or a Facebook status update. So sharing it here seems like the best thing to do!

Subject: Woulda.. Coulda.. Shoulda

Too many people put off something that brings them joy just because they haven't thought about it, don't have it on their schedule, didn't know it was coming or are too rigid to depart from their routine.
I got to thinking one day about all those people on theTitanic who passed up dessert at dinner that fateful night in an effort to cut back. From then on, I've tried to be a little more flexible.

How many women out there will eat at home because their husband didn't suggest going out to dinner until after something had been thawed? Does the word 'refrigeration' mean nothing to you?

How often have your kids dropped in to talk and sat in silence while you watched 'Jeopardy' on television?

I cannot count the times I called my sister and said , 'How about going to lunch in a half hour?' She would gas up and stammer, 'I can't. I have clothes on the line. My hair is dirty. I wish I had known yesterday. I had a late breakfast. It looks like rain.' And my personal favorite: 'It's Monday.' She died a few years ago. We never did have lunch together.

Because Americans cram so much into their lives, we tend to schedule our headaches. We live on a sparse diet of promises we make to ourselves when all the conditions are perfect!

We'll go back and visit the grandparents when we get Steve toilet-trained. We'll entertain when we replace the living-room carpet. We'll go on a second honeymoon when we get two more kids out of college.

Life has a way of accelerating as we get older. The days get shorter, and the list of promises to ourselves gets longer. One morning, we awaken, and all we have to show for our lives is a litany of 'I'm going to,' 'I plan on,' and 'Someday, when things are settled down a bit.'

When anyone calls my 'seize the moment' friend, she is open to adventure and available for trips. She keeps an open mind on new ideas. Her enthusiasm for life is contagious. You talk with her for five minutes, and you're ready to trade your bad feet for a pair of Rollerblades and skip an elevator for a bungee cord.

My lips have not touched ice cream in 10 years. I love ice cream. It's just that I might as well apply it directly to my stomach with a spatula and eliminate the digestive process. The other day, I stopped the car and bought a triple-decker. If my car had hit an iceberg on the way home, I would have died happy.

Now...go on and have a nice day. Do something you WANT to...not something on your SHOULD DO list. If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?

Have you ever watched kids playing on a merry go round or listened to the rain lapping on the ground? Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight or gazed at the sun into the fading night? Do you run through each day on the fly? When you ask 'How are you?' Do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed with the next hundred chores running through your head? Ever told your child, 'We'll do it tomorrow.' And in your haste, not see his sorrow? Ever lost touch? Let a good friendship die? Just call to say 'Hi'?

When you worry and hurry through your day, it is like an unopened gift....Thrown away.... Life is not a race. Take it slower. Hear the music before the song is over.

'Life may not be the party we hoped for... but while we are here we might as well dance'

Monday, June 14, 2010

It's all about honor

Here's a topic I haven't thought much on before, but after reading this article/blog, I'm going to give it a lot more thought. Lots of great quotes in that article too.

I've often had thoughts about how different it is to raise our kids today than it was when I was a kid. We as parents struggle with how to discipline our kids compared to how we were disciplined. When I was young my mother said on more than one occasion "Wait til your father gets home" and she wasn't the only one to use that phrase. It was so common across American households that they even had a TV show (cartoon) by that name. And in our case it was because dad was the designated disciplinarian.

I remember talking to a therapist about using spanking with my kids. She asked me if I wanted my kids to fear me. And at the time (and at other times) I thought, well, yeah, sometimes I do! It seems that most kids these days are missing that fear of mom & dad. I don't know about your kids, but mine certainly don't seem to have it! But she also added, that corporal punishment also leads to resentment and do I want my kids to resent me? Well, no, I don't want that. But at the same time, I don't resent my parents. They did their best with us and we turned out okay.

Alright, let me change direction as I don't want this to be a blog post about whether or not it's okay to spank your kids. I'm sure that argument/discussion can elicit the same amount of animosity/opinions as whether or not to vaccinate your kids!

Another reflection I've had is about how on television all Asian families are portrayed as being bound by honor. Honor of the family. Respecting and honoring elders, leaders, parents, etc. I really think this is the thing that is missing from American parenting. Now, I'm not going to lump all of American parenting into my own parenting, but lets just say it's missing from a strong majority (at least it's missing from the kids that end up being in the news for doing something wrong). I'm also not saying that Asian families have it all together - just that they tend to be portrayed that way on TV!

I do recognize that "Honor thy father and mother" (commandment #5) is what seems to be missing in my house. I acknowledge that we have not raised our kids to go to church every Sunday. We have our reasons so please don't let this start a blog post on the merits of church-going. However, I can see where this hole between Sunday School and corporal punishment has left my kids lacking in the understanding of honor.

I guess where I'm going with this is that I recognize that honor is not just a word, but it is a word that seems to be missing from dinner conversations in my home. Something that I plan to rectify right away. And with that, I'll leave you with a quote I skimmed from the article that got me started on this tangent...

“Rather fail with honor than succeed by fraud.” ~Sophocles (Greek playwright)

Friday, June 4, 2010

Jury Duty

A recent e-newsletter I enjoy posted an article about being called in for Jury Duty. I agree with his sentiment that questions why everyone always complains about getting called to serve. I too have complained - but it's usually because whenever I get the call - it's to travel to the courthouse on California Ave in Chicago. Pardon me for complaining, but I don't want to go there! There are plenty of other courthouses...even in the suburbs, that would be a better fit for me.

Well, anyway, I did get called in again this year and this time it was in Maywood (I swear, I get served every year!). The drive was not a big deal, the parking was close and I wasn't nervous at all walking to & from my car. I consider Maywood a great place to be called to serve (I was actually excited to go because it WASN'T California Ave!). Of course, the waiting room was tiny, cramped and not nearly as comfortable as the courthouse on California...but I figured the trade off was worth it.

As it turns out, there aren't as many courtrooms in Maywood and all of the cases were settled or postponed because not a single person was called to serve (we were all dismissed by 11AM). Honestly, I was quite bummed! I think it would be cool to serve on a jury. And if I had to serve on one - Maywood is a much better location than California Avenue (IMHO).

Now if I can just get them to call in me in for jury duty in the suburbs next time - I can't understand why they wouldn't do that! Because really, a jury is supposed to be 12 of your peers - I'm thinking I have more in common with the folks out here than I do with people in the city. Wouldn't it make more sense to have me serve on a suburban jury?

I invite you to post your comments - I'm curious to know how YOU feel about jury duty. Do you groan about it? Do you try to get out of it? Is your displeasure dependent on the location of the jury duty? Have you served before? How was it to experience our great legal system first hand? Please let me know!

“ Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.”
—George Bernard Shaw

Monday, April 19, 2010

The world, as we know it, has come to an end.

I'm speechless.

Completely befuddled.

Pigs are flying past my office window and Hell hath frozen over. I kid you not.

The world, as we know it, has come to an end.

Oh, you haven't heard?

What is causing this apocalyptic event?

My husband, Ian Blake, has joined Facebook.

Wait, let me help you up off the floor...I'm there too.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Potato Soup in a Crockpot

My husband bought a bunch of fresh parsley last week to make fish cakes (new recipe for us). All I could think is why fresh? It will go to waste in our house! So I wondered what I could make to use some. I remembered as a kid that we had parsley growing under our kitchen window...I'd go pluck some to make homemade potato soup...probably the only "from scratch" thing I knew how to make. I also have a bunch of potatoes that need to be used up...soup should be the answer to my dilemma. Problem is, I have no idea what that recipe is. Lucky for me...I have the Internet.
So I went online to find a recipe that doesn't include celery. My husband hates that stuff (I can't imagine soup without it). The one I found seemed pretty easy. Here's the original ingredients...and my substitutions.


  • 8 large potatoes, cubed - I used 10 potatoes because there were a few small ones.
  • 1 cup chopped onion - I was going to use a whole onion but seeing that this only called for 1 cup, I opted to use a partial one I found in the fridge.
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine - I used some European butter my husband likes.
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes - we don't use bouillon cubes in our house - don't like MSG and hate reading labels on those little containers. I substituted with a 14 oz can of chicken broth.
  • 2 tablespoons dry parsley flakes - fresh parsley baby!! As for measurement, I used a handful.
  • 6 cup water - took it down to 4 cups because of the can of broth.
  • 2 cup milk & 1/2 cup flour, mixed with water - this comes at the end of recipe...hopefully I'll remember to use them!

Stuff I added:

  • Salt & pepper - no I didn't measure it out - my home economics teacher would say this is not a real recipe unless you say how much to use...but I salt & pepper to taste!
  • 2 cloves of garlic - not in the picture because I thought to add them while I was peeling the potatoes!
Peel, wash & cube the potatoes into bite sizes pieces (I'm guessing they'll be mush later so make them a big bite size pieces). I got to use my new favorite knife...a birthday present from my hubby...I just love this thing! It's a Faberware santoku knife.
Of course I can't chop up potatoes and NOT slice myself some raw taters with salt & pepper to eat on the side! ;o)

Pour into the crockpot the chicken broth, water & potatoes.

I learned from Pioneer Woman that you cut an onion from root to tip & then slice & dice. Out of curiosity...and to keep my home economics teacher happy, I measured what half of a big onion is...and look, it's just over 1 cup!
Mince up the garlic & add it too (sorry no photo, didn't think you'd need one!)

Rinse, pat dry & de-stem the fresh parsley. Tear or cut in with a very sharp knife - if you use a chopper or mince it, it gets all squishy & might turn your soup a greenish color (that's what happened to our fish cakes!). From watching cooking shows I found an easy way to chop leafy stuff is to roll it up (not easy with lil leaves!) and then slice as if it were a sold object. Sorry no photo here...I had to use both hands!
Add to pot along with salt & pepper and butter.

Stir & set crock pot on high for 1 to 2 hours. Of course, as Murphy's Law would state...I got sidetracked and my errand running took a bit longer than planned & the soup was on high for 4 hours! Boy did it smell good when we got home.

I mixed the flour with a little turned into a yucky paste...but I dumped it into the pot with the milk anyway. Now it's supposed to simmer for awhile longer and (hopefully) thicken.

After about a half hour I tasted it, and added some more ground pepper. Another half hour & I was too hungry to wait any longer. I made myself a bowl and sprinkled some shredded cheese on top. I read that some people also add some sour cream & chopped green onions. But I was too hungry to do anything more than add cheese!

Verdict: Flavor - Yum. Consistency - not creamy enough. Anyone got any suggestions? I have an entire crockpot full, so I can still add stuff to it to improve it.

...don't forget to click "View Original Post" to leave me a comment on my actual blog. Thanks!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Another Email Post: TWO WOLVES

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said, "My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.
"One is Evil - It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
"The other is Good - It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather:
"Which wolf wins?"
The old Cherokee simply replied,
"The one you feed."

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I love a good joke...

One day a florist went to a barber for a haircut. After the cut, he asked about his bill, and the barber replied, 'I cannot accept money from you. I'm doing community service this week.' The florist was pleased and left the shop.

When the barber went to open his shop the next morning, there was a 'thank you' card and a dozen roses waiting for him at his door.

Later, a cop comes in for a haircut, and when he tries to pay his bill, the barber again replied, 'I cannot accept money from you. I'm doing community service this week.' The cop was happy and left the shop.

The next morning when the barber went to open up, there was a 'thank you' card and a dozen donuts waiting for him at his door.

Then a Congressman came in for a haircut, and when he went to pay his bill, the barber again replied, 'I can not accept money from you. I'm doing community service this week.' The Congressman was very happy and left the shop.

The next morning, when the barber went to open up, there were a dozen Congressmen lined up waiting for a free haircut.

And that, my friends, illustrates the fundamental difference between the citizens of our country and the politicians who run it.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Advice for a Teenage Daughter

I came across this today...I really liked it & wanted to share...

Advice for a Teenage Daughter I Will Never Have

Even if you have just been shot with a tranquilizer dart for elephants, don't sleep in your makeup. Or contact lenses.

What separates a professional eyebrow arch from the amateurs is scissor-trimming. This is the least important item on this list, but It took me 38 years to find out, and I have to pass it onto somebody.

Wear the bikini every chance you can, and use the sunscreen.

Every year you can possibly delay having sex will ultimately make sex that much better. Think of it as the difference between spending every allowance on cheap shoes that don't last, or saving up for some really fabulous Jimmy Choos. Not that you have to go without even touching a pair of shoes in the meantime. Or marry your first pair of Jimmy Choos. Don't tell your mom I said that.

As long as you are in your teens, avoid dating anyone more than three years older than you. At your age, a romantic relationship with an older man is actually neither romantic or a relationship.
You look ugly when you gossip.

Throwing up drunk is not a good look for you.

Save this for later: the person you are now is not the way you behaved then.

Someday, a girl who is horrible to you now will request to be your Facebook friend. And though your cursor will linger a long and delicious moment above the "ignore" button, you will click on "accept" instead, and know that you have grown up.

Go to your prom. Wear the corsage. Stand under the arch. Get the pictures. Really.

Don't waste youth and resiliency. Have adventures. It will never be more appropriate for you to be inappropriate, and society will never be more forgiving. But avoid risks that will narrow your future. Skinny-dipping: yes. Filmed skinny-dipping: no.

Most importantly, hang around for womanhood. I promise, the best is yet to come.

If you liked it as much as I did, jump over to Kyran's blog and tell her!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

It's the little things that annoy me...

Okay, so I just need to I know, I know, get on with it. Don't let it get to me. Well, isn't that what a journal is for? Write about it & then get over it. So I'll share it with you...the blog that no one is reading (LOL...I'm laughing alone here, I know).

So today I receive in the mail a membership drive packet for an association for which I am a member. Not only that, I serve on the board. Not only that, I designed some of the original documents for last year's drive. The printing looks great. The color is good. The concept works. The design is screwy.

Okay, so I'm a stickler for detail...I'm picky about layout & design...alright, I'll admit it, I'm anal (that always looks so much worse in print than it does when you say it out loud).

You see, my eye is automatically drawn to typos (not my own of course) and layout flow. So on the very first page I see a bulleted list that isn't set correctly. Okay, so I designed this thing in the latest MS Word (.docx) and the new person needed old Word (.doc). So someone did a save-as for them (I knew it shoulda been me!) and they obviously didn't know how to format bullets.

Okay, breathe Shelly, it's okay, no big deal,

Next page, whew, not one of mine. Oh ick! It's a survey page and they used spaces instead of tabs to line things up, oh ick, they put the answer lines at the END of the sentences! Okay, visual needed here...imagine this...

Survey question number one.      _ _ _ _ _
Survey question number is longer.       _ _ _ _ _
Question for the survey.                _ _ _ _ _

Well, you get the picture. And why put them at the end? Never mind that they used some weird dotted line thingie - why not put them at the beginning of each sentence? ugh.

Okay, last "marketing" page is the application. This one WAS mine (& by "was" I mean it no longer is because someone else made changes to it). All of my check boxes were changed to some weird character (that I later learn is a Euro money symbol). So rather than checking the boxes for your interests, or for your payment choices, etc., you're supposed to what, circle your choice?

Oh the horror of layout and design!

Okay, I'm feeling much better now. Thank you for, who am I kidding, I'm alone out here! Well, if it weren't for the whole Facebook thingie, my blog would never get thanks to all my FB peeps....but if you feel compelled to leave a comment, please click on the "View Original Post" link & put it on my blog. It would make me feel more loved. I'm just kidding folks! No really, I'm serious......Okay, I really need a fresh cup of tea now.

Monday, January 18, 2010

How will they improve it

I've been condition to believe medicine won't make me well unless it tastes nasty. My kids enjoy tasty medicine.

We looked forward to days off of school so we could do nothing. My kids want to know what I'm going to do to entertain them.

McDonalds was a once a month treat, my kids don't understand why I refuse to only let them eat that once a week at the most (and we didn't get happy meals either!).

So many things that as kids we wished we had, so when we grew up we made it happen for our kids. What will they improve? What else did we improve?

And yes, I did walk a mile in the snow to school, up-hill, both ways...with plastic breadbags for boots! ;-)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone